I am so happy to be living in Israel, but to be perfectly honest, it isn’t something I think about 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I don’t wake up on a high every morning and jump out of bed enthusiastically running to do all that I do with high level of awareness and consciousness that I am dwelling in this Holy Land. Of course, there are special moments when I soak up the truly special atmosphere that surrounds me when I take the time to focus. Nefesh B’Nefesh welcome ceremonies give a highly concentrated dose of “Israel is our home as well as the best place on earth to live,” which lasts for a good long while. “Only in Israel” stories and experiences also give that warm and pleasant feeling. On a recent tiyul with my family, we met up with someone who showered us with his overflowing love for the land, and I’m still feeling the lingering effects.

One night last week, actually in the wee hours of the morning, my son finished his training in the army. The Masa Kumta is the final hike that marks the end of training and the beginning of service. The soldiers walk for many kilometers while carrying their equipment, and then another few kilometers while carrying stretchers. It’s no easy feat. The Kumta is the beret, unique in color to its particular brigade (purple in the case of my son), which is placed upon the heads of the chayalim at a ceremony that takes place immediately upon their completion of this hike. It’s considered a rite of passage in the army and is a major production.

How many times over the last few months have you heard that we are living in historical times? There is absolutely no question about it. I can already envision in my mind the many books and articles that will be written about the days of COVID-19, along with the most extraordinary pictures that will accompany them.

Part 3

Continued from last week

 After being evicted from their homes and from their country, the Jews of Kittsee were forced to live on a rat-infested barge for five months, after which they were transferred to a detention camp in Budapest. While they were in Budapest, the workers at HICEM, HIAS, the Jewish Agency, and the American Joint Distribution Committee made efforts to find countries that would be willing to take in these homeless refugees. The families had to prove that they were upstanding people and would not be a burden on society.

Clear communication between people is far from automatic. As a matter of fact, it’s often the exception rather than the rule.  When people don’t speak the same language, they will obviously have difficulty conversing.  But even when people speak the same language, they often don’t really speak the same language. And this is where the trouble begins.

As I return to activities I engaged in prior to corona, I am amazed as to how happy I am to see things I didn’t even know I was even missing. I am actually referring more to people than objects. Of course, I missed seeing my friends and family. But that was no big surprise. But as I return to doing my power walk on the main drag of Ramat Beit Shemesh, I am reunited with the people whom I have gotten to know (aka formed opinions about without ever having spoken to them) while doing my rounds. There’s the guy who, rain or shine, winter or summer, can always be spotted sporting a pair of shorts, talking on the phone with one hand and drinking an iced coffee with the other. He brings me right back to the days I used to visit my aunt and uncle in Vacation Village and makes me feel like I should be walking to the social hall rather than around Nachal Dolev. There is something about his presence that screams Sunday (and we don’t even have Sundays) and relaxes me no matter what kind of stress I’m under. I definitely could have used some of that during lockdown. Then there’s the sweet older woman who also walks to keep in shape. As fellow “walkers,” we always nod and say hello when we pass each other. She always brings a smile to my face. I’m so happy to see her again. There are the teenage girls who sit at the bus stop talking for hours and hours, with no intention whatsoever of getting on a bus. And the Ramat Beit Shemesh resident who walks around picking litter up off the street. I didn’t think about any of these people at all while I was on lockdown. But now I realize that just by doing the normal things they do, they sprinkle my life with joy. I certainly hope that we don’t have to go into lockdown again, but if we do, I think that with my newfound sense of appreciation, I would actually miss these people.